Study on village's role in violence prevention

A new study on violence against women in Samoa is underway and is looking at how villages can take on a prevention role.

The study titled “E le Sauā le Alofa” (Love is not violent) is being conducted by the Samoa Victim Support Group in partnership with the University College of London and the National University of Samoa.

It will look at the role of Samoan villages in preventing violence against women with the S.V.S.G. – which has served as a refuge for victims of violence since its establishment – selecting 20 of its representatives from 10 villages to collect the data.

The S.V.S.G. village-based representatives will conduct interviews with community members including village and religious leaders, health professionals, families and survivors of violence.

These interviews will assist the local researchers to discuss common ideas from different communities in Samoa, violence against women and how each village is preventing it. Discussing these ideas with community members in a series of village meetings will assist in developing a set of guidelines for the research project and its activities.

The study is now into its second year with funding from the United Kingdom’s Research and Innovation agency for the next two years.

A Falefa village representative, Alaiasa Tavita, said the project following the training encouraged him to make a change on the issue of violence against women.

Speaking as one of the chiefs from his village, he shared that one of the common problems within his village is violence against women and girls.

“Being part of this project gave me the idea that we can make a change whilst working together to enforce ways in order to stop the violence against women,” he said. “We would like to gather them together, conduct counselling and offer advice as well working together so we can know what their fears are.

“It is because this is something that’s already happening between intimate relationships once there’s a problem in the relationship the woman will then commit suicide instead of talking it out and seek for other help.” 

He added that everyone must work together in order to come out strong and to make a change within their village.

Mr. Tavita also spoke on some of the reasons why some men use violence against women, saying men often resort to alcohol to de-stress, yet it can influence or lead to them abusing their wives. 

Other factors he shared were trust issues or money problems such as women not having money to care for their family.

Another Falefa village representative, Seletuta Taunuu, said being part of the project is important as she wants to contribute through the women’s committee to raise awareness on eliminating violence against women in her village.

“The most common violence within my own village is words: harmful words that be-little the women as well as physical abuse of the Nofotane women,” she said.

She added that one reason why women are not open to speaking on violence is due to women “fearing their abusive husbands.”

Ms. Taunuu is optimistic that eliminating violence is possible through collaboration and partnerships with village and church leaders.

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